Recent News Articles Is Using AI Technology To Help Black Americans Trace Their Family Trees

13 Jun 2024 2:18 PM | Anonymous is using artificial intelligence (AI) to help Black Americans in researching their family lineages. An updated database of searchable newspaper articles detailing American slaves' lives and descendants has been made public by the genealogy firm. Tens of thousands of newspaper records throughout the 1800s are part of the collection.

Helping Black Americans discover their family histories is the goal of this free-access resource. The program uses artificial intelligence to go through newspaper archives in search of slave names. Approximately 38,000 newspaper articles spanning 1788–1867 make up the collection, which includes details about over 183,000 individuals who were formerly enslaved, such as their names, ages, physical characteristics, and whereabouts.

"Where courthouse and community records have been lost or destroyed, many of these original newspaper articles fill gaps in historical records and contain never-before-seen information about enslaved individuals."

The new landing page is "dedicated to enslavement records," so users can look for specific individuals by name or peruse the results by state that has the most records. AI will search the inaccessible newspaper archives for slave names, linking those identities to Ancestry's other probate document databases to fill in the gaps, according to Axios.

As a professional genealogist and Ancestry Senior Story Producer, Nicka Sewell-Smith warned, "We're telling people upfront, listen, you might see some stuff, some terms, some things that are going to jolt you" due to the delicate nature of the information.

The states of Virginia, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana have the biggest records. Surprisingly, there are records that "show how Harriet Tubman helped some enslaved people escape north or offer clues that some may have tried to make a journey south to the Underground Railroad to Mexico."

In addition to Ancestry's current database of "more than 18 million records...that document the lives of formerly enslaved or newly emancipated individuals," this new endeavor will bolster that database. Records from the Freedmen's Bureau and Freedman's Bank, as well as some records from the United States Federal Census, are part of this collection.

Blog posts

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software